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By Sheredith Heitzenrater / Special to The Hesperian-Beacon—
Along life’s pathways you sometimes make the acquaintance of interesting, and occasionally, historic people.
In this past year, the Hesperian–Beacon began featuring an editorial column by the historic professor of economics at George Mason University, Dr. Walter E. Williams. His views of the racial problems of the day have been widely read. He believed the downfall of the family unit is often the root of many socio-economic problems, regardless of race.
Being born in Philadelphia and raised by his mother only, Williams knew firsthand how hard it was to rise out of poverty. After working as a taxicab driver then serving in the U. S. Army in Korea, he went on to get a college education and finally a doctorate.
My husband Jim and I are avid readers. While I prefer Christian novels, such as those written by my friend, Connie Johnson, of Floyd County, my husband likes action books such as those by our friend, James Doucette, also of Floyd County. Knowing my husband’s birthday was coming up, I contacted Williams several months ago and asked him which one of his books he would recommend for Jim. He felt “American Contempt for Liberty,” published in 2015, would be of interest. I purchased the book and sent it to Williams at the university.
Walter Williams autographed Jim’s book on Nov. 23, 2020 and mailed it back to me. It must have come by pony express from Virginia to Texas because it did not arrive until ten days later on Dec. 4. I immediately emailed Williams to let him know the book had arrived and I thanked him once again. Imagine my chagrin when later that night Jim told me Williams had died Tuesday, Dec. 1. He had taught his economics class, went out to his car and the Lord called him home.
At age 84, Williams had led an extraordinary life by growing up in poor conditions then educating himself to rise above poverty. I wish I could have met Dr. Williams in person. Jim now owns one of the last books Williams ever autographed. Although we had only been email pals for several months, I feel honored to have known him this short while.
Sheredith Heitzenrater and her husband are former residents of Floydada. She is the author of several children’s books, including The Christmas Barn, all of which can be purchased on-line